ELKTON — Facing fourth-and-22 at the East Rockingham 32 with less than a minute remaining until the half, Ashton Baker simply needed to make a play.
So, with his receivers smothered by the ERHS defense and his Central team clinging to a one-touchdown lead, the CHS quarterback took off for a Sportscenter-esque 29-yard run that put the Falcons at the 3-yard line.
On the ensuing play, Isaiah Dyer punched it in to give the Falcons a two-score lead and they never looked back en route to a 21-0 shutout of the Eagles in Bull Run District football action in front of a packed house in Elkton on Friday.
“Any time you do that, it’s huge,” Central coach Mike Yew said. “We said the same thing at halftime. Getting that score was huge. We really were able to take control at that point and do what we wanted to do on both sides of the ball. We did that and I’m just really proud of our kids. Total team effort.”
Central entered the game averaging 59.5 points per game through their first two contests, but struggled to capitalize against an impressive ERHS defense.
“Our kids played hard,” East Rock first-year coach Scott Turner said. “Hats off to [Central]. That’s a good football team over there. They made plays when they needed to. The sun will come up tomorrow and we’ll correct our mistakes. We will get back out there and get back to work on Monday.”
But after Dyer’s touchdown just before the half pushed the lead to 14-0, the Falcons delivered the dagger on their first possession of the third quarter.
After a fumble from the Eagles gave Central the ball at the ERHS 28, Dyer received eight straight carries for 28 yards before punching it in from the 3 to give the Falcons a 21-0 lead and taking the air out of the East Rock sideline.
“We really played a good game, a solid game,” Yew said. “We controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides. They’re a great team and that is a great win for our program. To get a shutout, it adds icing for our kids. They’re hard-nosed, tough kids, but we have some pretty tough kids, too. I was just really proud of our kids. It was a complete team effort tonight. I’m really proud.”
East Rockingham got into Central territory several times on the evening, but four turnovers ultimately were too much for the home team to overcome.
“We have some good young players that need some game experience and they got some tonight,” Turner said. “We’ll correct those mistakes. They’re a good group of kids, resilient group of kids. I know they’ll be ready to go.”
Dyer finished with 20 carries for 72 yards and two touchdowns for the Falcons (3-0, 3-0 Bull Run) while Tyler Forbes had seven carries for 47 yards.
Baker finished with 9-of-12 passing for 91 yards while receiver Caleb Daugherty had a 43-yard touchdown toss to Benjamin Watson on a trick play for the first score of the game. Those two also had 8 catches for 99 yards.
For the Eagles (0-1, 0-1 Bull Run), Jakari Eaves was 13-of-24 passing for 86 yards and a pair of interceptions while Logan Frye had 11 carries for 43 yards.
“It was really nice to be back,” Turner said. “This is a great community, great school. It was really nice to be back out here with everyone.”